Tami Herman grew up in southwest Provo in the 1960s and ‘70s when she, her cousins and her siblings spent their days playing outside and making up their own games. Her family had a large garden and raised chickens, rabbits and pigs.
“We used to ride our bikes all over, climb trees, steal apples — I still think stolen apples are the best apples in the world,” she says with a gleam.
As an adult, Tami worked 31 years for the North American Arms and became an expert in their gun line. Week after week, she would spend her shifts inspecting gun parts through a microscope and listening to books on tape or music. She especially enjoyed listening to Irish or Scottish music that would take her mind around the world.
“We worked hard, but it was worth it,” she says. “It didn’t seem hard. It was worth getting up every morning and going to work.”
A few years ago, Tami’s doctors found a tumor and flesh-eating disease, forcing the doctors to amputate both her legs above the knee.
“It was upsetting at first, but I just thought when I woke up, ‘Well, I have to start over, so what am I going to do? Am I going to sit here and bawl? No. I never was a big bawl baby. So I’m just going to be who I am and who I always was,’” Tami says. “If you want to be a sad sack, be a sad sack. But I never was, and I’m never going to be.”
Tami’s deliberate decision to make the best of a traumatic and life-altering disease has helped her be empathetic to others.
Tami has lived at Cascades at Orchard Park in Orem for three years, and just last month she became the council president, which means she gets to know all the residents and advocates for them.
“I help them if they have questions or things they don’t want to bring up to the staff themselves and administration,” she says. “I try and get them to open up more, too.”
When Tami’s aunt passed away, the staff arranged to take her to the viewing. Tami says this individualized care is normal at Cascades at Orchard Park.
Go to the Source
Tami Herman has one piece of advice for others looking to move into a senior living center.
“Don’t talk to the staff,” she says. “Talk to the residents. They’re the ones who are going to tell you the truth. And if they are happy, you know it’s good.”
Let us Count the Ways
In May 2018, Kiplinger.com ranked Utah as the 10th best state to retire. They attributed the ranking to outdoor recreation options, lower healthcare costs, and a 65+ population of 10 percent.
Utah County’s population was recorded at 606,425 in 2017 with a 7.49 percent growth rate. The senior community (65 years+) at 7.5 percent of Utah County residents.
Senior Social Butterfly
A birth certificate from more than 60 years ago can become your ticket to a variety of social activities hosted through the Provo Senior Center. The city-sponsored organization hosts tai chi classes, zumba classes, bingo nights, monthly book club meetings, computer classes, digital photo management classes and much more.
Provo residents over age 60 can purchase an annual pass to the rec center for $10, and non-residents can purchase the same pass for $100. This pass grants access to the Library Room, the Wellness Room, a water aerobics class and the walking track at certain hours. Options are also available for individual entry without an annual pass.
The Provo Senior Center also organizes Discovery Tours, which are day expeditions for seniors to nearby getaways and are available for seniors from any city. Past destinations have included the Utah Valley Parade of Homes, the Ogden Nature Center, Oktoberfest and Cowboy Poetry in Heber City. In the months of November and December, they plan to attend Christmas Around the World at BYU, the Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork and the Christmas light displays at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
Visit provo.org/signup to register for upcoming events.